Fireflies in Selangor

Sunday 27 December 2015 Amsterdam, Netherlands

Cheese in Amsterdam

Taken to Tegel by Micki. Flew to Schiphol then had a couple of hours wandering the busy Christmassy streets of Amsterdam. Had some gouda and Heineken. Back to Schiphol for an overnight flight to Kuala Lumpur on KLM.


Monday 28 December 2015 Kuala Selangor, Malaysia

Glühwürmchen in Selangor

Arrived in Kuala Lumpur and then a dash north for a couple of hours to Kuala Selangor and the Firefly Park Resort to stay in a scruffy overwater bungalow with geckos running about on the ceiling.  Then it was a quiet night-time boat trip on the river to see the fireflies (Glühwürmchen as they call them in German). There were millions of the creatures in the bushes flashing their little bottoms for all they were worth. If they were Christmas lights in Amsterdam they would possibly be seen as being a bit feeble but this was up a Malaysian river in the middle of nowhere and as it was it was like looking at a slice of the night sky dropped onto the river bank. They reminded me of the luminous bugs you sometimes get in the water when sailing.


Tuesday 29 December 2015 Penang, Malaysia

Colonial Georgetown

An early departure and another drive north to the island of Penang to stay in the Eastern & Oriental Hotel. This is a fabulous old colonial hotel which I last visited almost exactly five years ago for a Christmas dinner with crew while sailing on Grapto. H had booked us in to a suite in the old part of the hotel with a balcony and a view of palms and a tiare tree in full bloom with the sea beyond. Then sightseeing. First to the very strange Kek Lok Si Buddhist temple and then up the funicular railway to the top of Penang Hill. Last time I was here it was cloudy and cold with some miserable wet monkeys. This time it was sunny and warm but no monkeys to be seen at all. We had cocktails and dinner outside with a view of the lights twinkling on in Georgetown 2,000ft below. A similar experience to watching Glühwürmchen!


Wednesday 30 December 2015 Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

Teatime in Titiwangsa

Drove from Penang to the Cameron Highlands. The Cameron Highlands was a British colonial hill station in the 1930’s. Now it’s tea estate country and a touristy place, mainly for the natives. The road in is not the best and it twists and turns through the jungle and up into the mountains over 2,000 metres high. In very lumpy valleys near the top are tea estates and big hotels in a 1930’s style mock-tudor. We checked into the Heritage Hotel in Tana Rata then went to a rough-looking restaurant in the basement of the Titiwangsa Hotel. We ordered a steamboat (a sort of Chinese fondue) but the Memsahib wouldn’t touch it. Can there be so much wrong with piles of raw chicken, fish, shrimp and squid that a bit of poaching in a soup won’t fix? I had some. Time will tell.


Thursday 31 December 2015 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Twin Tower Fireworks

Drove from the Cameron Highlands to Kuala Lumpur. The road down from the Highlands was no better than going up. Views of the tree-ferns, other jungley plants and recently cleared mudslides was sometimes livened-up with hubcaps Frisbee-ing off buses going over potholes. We stopped for the Memsahib to buy rambutans and bananas at a roadside shack. Arrived at the Pullman Hotel in KL to be told that a room we carefully booked overlooking the Petronas Towers was unavailable. The Memsahib went ballistic and after many hotel staff were vaporized an excellent room on the 27th floor magically turned up. We had some Malay food on room service and moved some furniture to get a ringside seat for the New Year fireworks.


Friday 1 January 2016 Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Batu Caves

Met up with Greg Hock of DC&A for a coffee in our hotel then we drove out to Batu Caves in the northern suburbs of KL. Batu Caves is a popular Hindu shrine. Hard to describe. Giant golden and painted statues of Hindu deities. Lots of crumbling concrete steps up to some big caves with temples and shrines. It is a very sweaty climb up for the devotees and presumably also for the resident monkeys.